Sugar substitutes are marketed as a way to reduce calories and decrease intake of added sugars. While they seem to be safe, the products in which sugar substitutes are found may contain large amounts of refined carbohydrate and are frequently not the healthiest choices, according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
-Look for labels. “Diet,” “sugar-free,” “low-calorie,” or “reduced-calorie” labels typically indicate the presence of sugar substitutes. CHOOSE water. When trying to decrease added sugar intake, water, unsweetened coffee, tea, and seltzer are the best choices. For those who find it hard to give up sugar-sweetened beverages, a switch to beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes will help cut health-damaging added sugars while you work to wean yourself off of sweet drinks.
-Eat fruit. The natural sugars in fruits are not associated with harmful health effects, and the nutrients in these naturally-sweet choices are definitely health-promoting.
-Limit sugar alcohols. In some people, high intake can cause cramping, gas, and diarrhea. The amount that can be tolerated without ill effects varies from person to person. “Sugar Alcohol” should be listed under “Total Carbohydrate” on Nutrition Facts labels.
The FDA has also established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for each artificial sweetener. This is the maximum amount considered safe to consume each day over the course of your lifetime. ADIs are intended to be about 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns.
Cooking with Kathy Man
Sugar substitutes are loosely considered any sweetener that you use instead of regular table sugar (sucrose). Artificial sweeteners are just one type of sugar substitute. The chart lists some popular sugar substitutes and how they’re commonly categorized.
|Artificial sweeteners||Sugar alcohols||Novel sweeteners||Natural sweeteners|
|Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) ||Erythritol ||Stevia extracts (Pure Via, Truvia) ||Agave nectar |
|Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) ||Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate ||Tagatose (Naturlose) ||Date sugar |
|Neotame ||Isomalt ||Trehalose ||Fruit juice concentrate |
|Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low) ||Lactitol ||Honey |
|Sucralose (Splenda) ||Maltitol ||
The topic of sugar substitutes can be confusing. One problem is that the terminology is often open to interpretation. For instance, some manufacturers call their sweeteners “natural” even though they’re processed or refined, as is the case with stevia preparations. And some artificial sweeteners are derived from naturally occurring substances — sucralose comes from sugar, for example.
Regardless of how they’re…
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